Cover Story, Online edition!

Teamwork, Servant Leadership


I remember him well—my high school baseball coach, Robert Turnberger. He paid money to a sports reporter to spell his name correctly. In 1962, our team won the South Jersey Region 2 title under Coach T’s leadership. The school board nixed our going to state for some unknown reason. We knew we were the best and wanted to prove it

The ‘Hounds weren’t a mass collection of superstar athletes. The only “star” on the team was the team. Coach took what he had and built us into a winning unit. Everything we did we did as a team. We played as a team on the field and teamed together off the field.

We were a team and we were successful.

When servant leadership becomes your life, you discover leadership is a team effort, not a one-man show. No one person is as strong or as smart as all of us together. SERVANT LEADERS COMMIT THEMSELVES TO BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM WITH A SHARED VISION, PURPOSE, AND METHODS.

Vision may be initiated by an individual (a pastor, coach, president, supervisor, manager) but vision is best fulfilled by a team which shares the vision. A leader’s vision is only as good as the team that fulfills it. Coach T shared a clear and compelling vision for us to be the best team in South Jersey in 1962 and we were. All of us bought into his vision and fulfilled it

God believes in teamwork.

The Trinity is a team: Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Exodus 18: Moses’ division of labor

The 12 Apostles

The Missionary Teams of Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, Barnabas and John Mark.

Paul established leadership teams of elders and deacons after he planted churches.

How wise are Solomon’s words to servant leaders: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4: 9, 10


Peter Drucker wrote:

“Effective leaders never say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept the responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit.”

Coach T. would agree. So would the ‘Hounds. Do You?

Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site iswww.livinggraceministries,com and his email is

Cover Story, Online edition!

Three Things No One Tells You About Discovering Your Purpose

Books by Donna! 


By: Donna R. Patrick, Award Winning Author

Psalm 139:14 – I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  

“Tricks are for kids.”  Remember that television commercial for Trix cereal?  Do you often see articles offering a trick to do this, or a trick to do that?  There is one trick to burn fat, another trick to have a successful marriage, and too many others to name.  The supposed simplicity of buying into the trick is to make whatever you’re trying to get done go faster with less work.  But I have discovered that there really are no tricks to discovering your purpose or making life better on your own terms.  

Having been a musician for three-fourths of my life, there was a time when all I did was play and teach new music with little regard for whether lives were being changed.  It was at The International Worship Institute that the shift came leading to the discovery of my purpose.  Knowing my purpose gave me a reason to get up in the morning, shaped my goals, and gave me a sense of direction.  It provided me a central, motivating theme for my life.  Your unique, God-given purpose is the reason you exist.  It is the vehicle through which you tap into your creativity, significance, and the greatness God placed inside of you. 

With a changed mind the music I selected was now influenced by the Holy Spirit’s active power in my life (Eph. 3:20).  It had become important to me to select music that God wanted, rather than what was most popular at the time.  My motivation was now to lead others straight into the presence of God through music.  Eventually God began to open up opportunities for me to organize, and teach in, worship conferences because it wasn’t just about the music anymore; it was about Christian education with an emphasis on biblical worship.  

I offer three very good reasons why it is important to know God’s purpose for your life:  

  1. So you don’t waste precious time doing things that God never meant for you to do. Yes, make plans, but ask for God’s guidance; 
  2. So you don’t miss being a blessing in someone else’s life.  God’s purpose for your life may not be just for you; and
  3. So you don’t begin life full and leave full – leave empty!  God has given all of us something to do that no one else can do as well.    

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “But how can I know God’s purpose for my life?”   It all starts with knowing Jesus Christ and having a personal relationship with Him.  There are so many voices that would tell us where we belong, but seek Godly counsel (Psalm 1:1).  This very often means guarding our ear gate from those voices that don’t speak God’s truth.  He will show you who you are and where you belong when you ask Him. 

Donna Renay Patrick is an award-winning author of two praise and worship-themed devotionals; At All Times, and It’s In Your Praise. She also co-authored two other devotionals; one to encourage women in the workplace, and the other a stewardship-themed devotional called,The Perfect Seven. She is a musician, worship leader, transformational speaker, and host of The Donna Patrick Show, an internet-based segment on The Fishbowl Radio Network.  With ministry-focused guests, her show emphasizes the priority of worship in the 21st century church, and how to tap into next-level personal and corporate worship.

Cover Story, Online edition!

A Night to Remember, “Then Jesus walked in…”


Darkness was setting in. The street they walked on through the city was dirty, like a dusty path. They knew someone would be at the house to wash their feet before dinner. Foot washing. A menial task. Only a slave, who had no choice, would stoop to wash someone’s feet. Real men don’t wash feet.

The group’s leader was unusually quiet that night. He had been for several weeks, like something was bothering Him, troubling Him. The others were too much into themselves to ask Him what it was or if they could help.

Arriving at the house, no foot washer greeted them. Weird. It was customary, like washing your hands, but the paid guy didn’t show. Also, it was customary for one of the guests to wash the feet of the others if there was no servant, but no one stepped forward. Maybe they thought:

“I’ll wash hands, not feet.”
“I’m not a servant. Foot washing is for the lower class.”
“I have a bad back. Doctor told me not to bend over.”

Ignoring the opportunity to serve, each hurried off to recline next to the host.

THEN JESUS WALKED IN. I wonder what He thought as He saw the dirty feet of His disciples. He may have remembered some sermons, challenges, teachings, His own example about serving. “Did it do any good?” When He sat down, did He think:

“My death is imminent; just a few more hours.”
“Will no one have the humility to wash even my feet?”
“Will no one serve Me?”

When no one made a move, Jesus made His. Quietly, as the others were eating, He slipped away from the table, pulled off His outer robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin, then washed and dried the dirty feet of each disciple. No fanfare, no bells and whistles, no hype, no media, no texting, no twitter, no attention drawn to Himself.

Jesus made a decision to wash feet and we’re still talking about it today. The disciples were into themselves, not the needs of others. They looked for reasons to say no, unwilling to stoop down and serve, even the Lord Jesus.

One lesson for leaders is that it doesn’t take much to make an impression. Be on the lookout for opportunities to serve, to go the extra mile, to do the menial. It might turn out to be a really big deal that people remember and talk about.

Something else. Jesus even washed the feet of Judas. Would you wash the feet of one who betrays you, ridicules you, criticizes you, ignores you, speaks against you, dislikes you? Jesus did. Will you?

Fred Campbell lives in Ovilla, Texas, just south of Dallas. He pastored two independent Bible churches for 40 years. Currently, he is the president of Living Grace Ministries, a ministry committed to helping churches develop servant leaders, following the model of the Lord Jesus. Fred has traveled to 29 countries and 15 states to lead the workshop. He received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his D Min from Phoenix Seminary. Fred is married to Carolyn and has a married son and two grandchildren. His web site iswww.livinggraceministries,com and his email is

Cover Story, Online edition!

A Legacy of Fathers, by Pamela Gautier

A Legacy of Fathers

Unless the Lord builds the house the work of the builders is wasted. Psalms 127:1 (NLT)

Have you ever had a vision to build? It started off as a thought or dream.  1 Corinthians 3:11 (NLT) says there is no other foundation that we have to build upon than-Jesus Christ. When I began to build upon the right foundation that’s when it all made sense.

It was by faith that Abraham was called to leave home, and go to another land that God would give him as an inheritance, Hebrews 11:8 (NLT).
What do we do when the unexpected happens in the middle of building? Abraham obeyed God’s vision and direction for his life. Genesis 13:14,15 – I am giving you this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.  Abraham had to live in this land by faith as a foreigner and a stranger. Abraham was building his hope on the promise of God for his future.

When we are in the process of building however, other difficulties can arise. While Abraham was waiting on God’s promises to be fulfilled, he found himself in a battle for his families lives. Lot, Abraham’s nephew and others had been kidnapped. Abraham was victorious in the fight. Genesis 14:20 says, Blessed be Abraham and God Most High, which has defeated your enemies for you. When God is building our house, He is in the midst of the challenges we face with our families. 

God promised Abraham in Genesis 15:1 that his reward would be great, but Abraham’s greatest desire was for a child. He wanted someone that would carry on his legacy after he’d passed on. In Genesis 15:5, the Lord told Abraham to count the stars if he could, that’s how many descendants he would have. 

Have you ever waited for something that seemed like it would never come?
We can get weary in the process. God will renew our strength when we wait on Him Isaiah 40:31.  If we understand that it is for His Glory, our faith will give us lasting endurance.  It doesn’t matter what comes. Matthew 7:25 says when the rains and winds came, the house did not fail because it was founded upon a rock.

Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was finally born. Abraham is known as the father of faith. He believed God even when the situation became impossible. It is interesting that Psalms 127:3-5 says don’t you see that children are God’s best gift, the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?  

Abraham allowed the Lord to build his house. When he surrendered to the Lord, he found the purpose for which he was created. God has given us all an eternal purpose. Today Abraham is still having children by faith, for all those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Go and build your legacy, the foundation has already been laid. Let the Lord build YOUR house……



HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013.

Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area. Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed.


Cover Story, Online edition!

A Hallelujah from Head to Toe, Is anything in the way of your hallelujah?

By Karen Milioto

Growing up, nothing filled me with more awe than hearing The Hallelujah Chorus sung on Easter Morning. Not a single natural landscape, museum nor any painting on any canvas I had ever seen, compared to the sound of that song filling the sanctuary of the little church where I was raised. The smell of lilies blanketing the room as echoes of each chord boomed off of the white walls and wood paned windows, beyond which the first subtle hints of spring were just beginning to emerge in our tiny New England town.

I can still remember standing there, completely wooed. 

In the days and weeks after Easter, each word would continue to sound off in my heart, and I would hum along softly to myself,

“Christ The Lord is risen today, Alleluia”.

But as I grew older, each ‘Alleluia’ was slowly replaced with a growing internal list of all that I believed I lacked. Each thing I thought I wasn’t enough of, and all the areas where I was certain I fell short. All combining and filling me with a sense of instability where I had once been overcome by awe.

Before long, that song became just another tune I used to hum. Easter became just another day on the calendar. And ‘Alleluia’ became just another word I had once believed I held meaning for me. Then I slowly began turning from it all in pursuit of things I thought I could rely on here and now. Stuff I was certain would bring me security in this body and this world.

When I finally stumbled my way back into church years later one thing was clear to me, the only thing truly tangible in this world is Easter. And my security moving forward relied solely on never forgetting that again. Remembering that ‘Christ The Lord has risen’ and setting my mind and my heart on making the resurrection of Jesus’ body the only lens through which I see myself and the world around me.

It’s a discipline, and discipline doesn’t come easily to me. I am kind of a quitter by nature and I’m super distractible. I back away when things get difficult and seek out what comes easily to me instead. I have a yoga mat, two Pilates DVD’s and several diet themed cook books to support this claim. 

Thankfully, I am not the one empowering the cultivation of this discipline or the corresponding shift in my person that has come as a result. Its Jesus. His body, broken for me. His blood poured out. That somehow enables me to stand here, completely wooed. Watching every ‘not’ and each ‘isn’t’ that I once believed defined me, and all things I thought I needed to do and be in this life in order to have a sense of value and worth. And every characteristic I was certain I lacked. Melt away into one resounding ‘Alleluia’ instead.

Leaving me with only one thing left to strive for here on earth, becoming as Augustine put it, “an Alleluia from head to toe”.

Karen is a former Bostonian who now resides on a small farm just north of Baton Rouge.

She loves scripture and her garden and often weaves both into her work as a writer. In 2017, Publisher’s Weekly described her debut memoir, Mustard Seeds and Water Lines as an ‘emotional and finely crafted’ account of her personal journey towards healing after The Great Flood of 2016, in their annual Book Life Prize review. And, as her story has made its way across the country, readers have consistently embraced her as an authentic voice with a message of hope in the wake of a disaster.

Karen is a wife, mother and weekly co-host of The Back Porch Book Club, a podcast designed to build community and conversation surrounding books about Spiritual Formation and the Bible.

You can find her on Instagram @karenmilioto or online at

Cover Story, Online edition!

Welcome Award Winning Author Donna Renay Patrick! Responding to Worship…..

You Have to Respond One Way or Another….

How will you respond? 


You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Worship is not just something we “do;” it’s who we are. The very nature and essence of God commands our worship.  I’ve been in worship ministry several years and one thing I’ve come to discover is that a lot of what we call “worship” is really not worship.  I’ve seen some great choirs, worked with some of the best musicians in the country, and experienced different personalities in those charged with worship leader responsibilities.  But the common denominator in all of it is great music – not true worship.  I’ve been in rehearsal for hours preparing for Sunday morning, but where was the worship?  I know that sounds hard to some, and may even spark debate, but just walk with me for a minute.

God wants more.  All the way back to early in the Old Testament God was calling for our complete devotion to Him (Ex. 20:5).  He demanded it from the nation of Israelites and he is demanding it of us now.  But somewhere we’ve missed it.  Too often worship is lost in the great music, the sound effects, the technology, the stage props, the best singers, and all the other things that we think are necessary for people to have a meaningful worship experience.  But what does all of THAT have to do with in spirit and in truth worship?  

It is true that music is a Biblically-ordained tool that helps us get into the throne room, but great music and worship are not the same thing.  When Jesus was giving the Samaritan woman a lesson in worship by that well, He said nothing about music, instruments, praise teams, song selection, etc. (John 4:23-24).  It isn’t just about Sunday morning; it’s about the rest of the week. It is about how we live.  Shouldn’t our lives reflect the worship of God?  Shouldn’t how we live from day to day be an offering to God?  Shouldn’t we strive every day to be like the One we say we worship?  Isaiah’s worship brought Him to repentance, then service (Isaiah 6:1-8). God is looking for worshipers.  He is looking for those who will worship Him under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and be real with Him (Psalm 51:6).

God is really not concerned that we have the proper lighting on stage, or what color the PowerPoint is when we’re leading the congregation in song.  He doesn’t even care how big the building is. God just wants us to come before His presence with sincere hearts, spirit to Spirit, and a mind willing to receive from Him.  When God gave Moses the specifications to construct the Tabernacle, His concern was not a piece of real estate; but that His presence dwell there.

I hope you will choose to embrace God’s presence with every fiber of your being.  Give Him your all in your public and private worship experience.  The call has gone out. How will you respond?

Donna Renay Patrick is an award-winning author of two praise and worship-themed devotionals; At All Times, and It’s In Your Praise. She also co-authored two other devotionals; one to encourage women in the workplace, and the other a stewardship-themed devotional called,The Perfect Seven. She is a musician, worship leader, transformational speaker, and host of The Donna Patrick Show, an internet-based segment on The Fishbowl Radio Network.  With ministry-focused guests, her show emphasizes the priority of worship in the 21st century church, and how to tap into next-level personal and corporate worship.

Cover Story, Online edition!

Is it dead or alive? Great story about real life in Christ.

“In both my garden and my life, fear of risks does nothing other than tempt me to stand still. Opting not to engage in the things I can’t trust to succeed. I mistake stagnation for comfort and security. And then pass on opportunities for growth.”

My potatoes were hit by a late frost last week, lining each row with wilted signs of failure – despite the careful attention we had paid to planting them.

Unfortunately, there is always the risk that crops like this will fail – the threat of weather, disease, or pests destroying them lingers constantly.

But in both my garden and my life, fear of risks does nothing other than tempt me to stand still. Opting not to engage in the things I can’t trust to succeed. I mistake stagnation for comfort and security. And then pass on opportunities for growth.

Leading me to ask myself, what exactly is it that I fear? Failure? A dead plant? Loss of effort? Someone or something dying? Pain? An idea that didn’t work? A swing and a miss? The burn of falling face down before other, more capable, feet?

I wonder, why do we equate failure to death? Using words like ‘dead’ and ‘dying’ to describe our efforts, places, people’s hearts and even our planet when we decide they have ceased to function as we believe they should?

It doesn’t line up with what nature and the Gospel have taught me so far. Instead, both insist that that what we may call failure, could be a gain. That sick things can be healed. The blind can see again. Resources that appear drained can be multiplied. What we call lost is capable of being found. With death can come life. And in that life, everything serves a purpose in the regenerative work of God.

On Easter we turn to the tomb and notice that death can actually be conquered and stones that feel permanent can be rolled away, revealing something entirely different than the cruel image we were left with on the cross. Encouraging us to see everything differently. Our eyes dancing at the notion of light shining into that empty tomb and revealing the true nature our Creator and how He runs this show we call life.

What Easter seems to want to teach me this year is that stopping is more dangerous than moving. And that my decision to cease is the only thing that leads to death. And that deeply embedded in the message of Easter morning is a call to activity.

Mary did not cease to act on Jesus’ behalf. Her story did not end at the foot of the cross. Where death urged her to believe things were complete. Instead, she showed up at the tomb and looked inside. When she didn’t find Jesus there she searched for him. And when she found him she went and told others what she saw. Mary never stopped moving.

Since last week, my potatoes have reemerged. New shoots brought forth fresh new leaves, and looking at them I doubt that the tiny little spuds growing below the surface ever skipped a beat during that short time when my eyes convinced me they were dead.

Karen is a former Bostonian who now resides on a small farm just north of Baton Rouge.

She loves scripture and her garden and often weaves both into her work as a writer. In 2017, Publisher’s Weekly described her debut memoir, Mustard Seeds and Water Lines as an ‘emotional and finely crafted’ account of her personal journey towards healing after The Great Flood of 2016, in their annual Book Life Prize review. And, as her story has made its way across the country, readers have consistently embraced her as an authentic voice with a message of hope in the wake of a disaster.

Karen is a wife, mother and weekly co-host of The Back Porch Book Club, a podcast designed to build community and conversation surrounding books about Spiritual Formation and the Bible.

You can find her on Instagram @karenmilioto or online at

Cover Story, Online edition!

A Prison of Injustice, Don’t Give up on your Dreams!

a prison of injustice,
don’t give up on your dreams!

A Prison of Injustice, Don’t Give up on your Dreams! 

A message can be found in many a place.

I was wearing a certain bracelet, and when I opened it and turned it upside down it looked like open handcuffs. When I held it right side up it looked like an opened heart. (See picture)

I immediately began to think of the many prisons that are found in our world today. The church too, suffers attack from the chains that bind, whether that be social injustice, domestic injustice, racial injustice, criminal, family, the workplace, and so on.

The story of Joseph, beginning in Genesis 37, tells of the dreams that placed him although innocent as he was, in a prison of injustice. These plans were orchestrated by his brothers (family injustice), and shaped by a prison of their own jealousy. John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, and kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Even though Joseph was shackled, with the chains of injustice, in an undeserved place, the Lord was with Joseph. He succeeded in everything he did while he served in the Egyptian home of his master. Genesis 39:2. As if this weren’t enough, Joseph was also unjustly lied on and accused of Infidelity by Potiphar’s wife, which landed him in deeper trouble. Even in this place, Joseph found favor with the prison warden, and once again Joseph was successful in everything that he did. Genesis 39:23.

It’s remarkable how in the hands of a timeless God, undeserved injustices can turn into undeserved privilege, a picture of God’s Grace, which we all are in need of. Romans 5:8. This freedom is found, when we realize this and surrender to a loving Father, allowing Him to make sense of it all. I Timothy 4:6 says, “He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone at just the right time.”

God knows how to bring every injustice full circle. As I reflected on the bracelet I shared about at the beginning of this story, it started closed on my wrist, but inside it held a different meaning. I shared that when handcuffs are open, and are turned upward it resembles an open heart. This is the reflection of the love of God. His heart is always opened to us.

He loves us too much to leave our stories unfinished. What’s your story? Jesus paints a whole picture.

At the close of Joseph’s story, the same place where he’d been delivered over to death, was the same place where he received new life, the Resurrection. This is a perfect picture of the new birth. Out of his life of hopelessness, pain, rejection, and sorrow, came love, joy, restoration, forgiveness, healing, and a new beginning.

Joseph was now free to fulfill the dream that was inside of him all alone.His prison of injustice through God’s mercy resulted in redemptive victory.

Can we find anyone like this man so obviously filled with the Spirit of God?

Genesis 41:38. Dare to Dream!

HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013.

Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area. Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed

Cover Story, October 2018

Memories of Family and Faith with Coach Dale Brown, Cover Story

memories of family and faith

by dale brown

Dale Brown was the men’s head basketball coach at Louisiana State University from 1972 to 1997. During his 25 years at LSU, the Tigers won 448 games, appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments, and earned Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986.

Two days before I was born, my so-called father—I’ve always referred to him as “my mother’s husband”—left my mother, two young sisters, eleven and twelve years of age, and me, and he never returned. His departure put my mother in a difficult position. She had an eighth-grade education, came off the farm in North Dakota, and couldn’t get a job during the Great Depression in 1935. She became a maid and baby-sitter to earn money, and she had to put our family on welfare.  We lived in a one-room apartment above a bar and hardware store, and I remember my mother getting $42.50 monthly from Ward County welfare.

Two times during this difficult period, my mother taught me a lesson that has stayed with me during my entire life. I saw my mother put on her winter coat, walk down a flight of stairs, and take back to the Red Owl and the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores 25 cents and 40 cents, because the clerks had given her too much change for the groceries she’d brought home. Her actions remind me of a poem by Edgar Guest. 

I’d rather see a lesson than hear one any day 
I’d rather you walk with me than to merely show the way
The eye is a better teacher, and more willing than the ear  
And counsel is confusing but example’s always clear 
The best of all the teachers are the ones who live the creed 
To see good put into action is what everybody needs 
I soon can learn to do it if you let me see it done
I can see your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run 
And the counsel you are giving may be very fine and true

But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do. 

My mother always followed the advice of St. Francis of Assisi when he said, “Preach the gospel every day, and if necessary use words.” I saw other lessons in the life of my wonderful mother. Not once, after being abandoned, did I hear my mother talk negatively about the man who had walked out on us and never returned, never sent any money, never wrote. She never, drank, smoked, or used profanity. She was never bitter, angry, or ever complained about her situation in life. I learned from her that if you are looking for a helping hand, look at the end of your own arm. 

My mother’s faith was unbelievable.  She brought me to Mass and Communion daily — not just Sunday, but daily. For me, the daily trip to church was a ritual. To my numerous fake illnesses and attempts to avoid going, my mom’s response was always, “Get up, Son. We’re going to Mass and Communion.” I never slept in a bed the first 21 years of my life but the spirit that grew in that little one-room apartment we lived in, uncomfortable and cramped though it was, made it attractive and peaceful. I was blessed. 

Being a small place, the apartment never provided any place for me to get away on my own. So at night, I often went to sit above the alley on the fire escape. One night, the faith my mother instilled in me deepened when I came back in from sitting out there. My mom asked me to sit in her little rocker.

She pulled up the footstool and said, “Son, I notice you go outside at night a lot. What do you think about when you’re out there? I said, “Mama, I think of two things. I think of travel.” (We didn’t own a car, a bicycle, or any other form of transportation.) “I think of climbing mountains.” (North Dakota is a very flat state, flatter than the top of a table.) That dream came true — I have been in 90 countries and climbed the Matterhorn.  

My mother hesitated just a moment and then said, “You know Son, I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but I need to teach you a lesson. You know when these people come to pick me up to go baby-sit? I’m so embarrassed. There’s no husband in our house. We live in this little one-room apartment. I’ve just got an eighth-grade education. My clothes smell of mothballs.” (She bought her clothes at rummage sales.)

“So I’m so worried about my image when these big shots come to pick me up. I look up big words in the dictionary, and then all the way to their house, I inject these words into conversation to try to impress them. That’s called making an image. When you sit out there on the fire escape at night, it’s just you and God, that’s your true character. And Son, if you spend too much time polishing your image, you’ll eventually tarnish your character and be an unhappy man.”

That night, my mom taught me that being my true self was far more important than trying to impress people or pretend to be someone I was not.  Your character is who you really are and your image is what you are perceived to be.

The Church’s Effect on Me  
No matter how financially tight things got, Mom always scraped together enough money for me to attend Catholic school. I learned a great deal over the course of the 12 years I attended a Catholic school. I learned that rules were important. I learned we all are on this earth to help each other. 

Two particular lessons stand out in my mind. One morning, I was standing with two friends by the radiators in the hall at school, warming up. We had religion class before school every day at 8 a.m., and we were out there before class, talking about the things kids talk about. One of the guys said, “Yeah, the Salvation Army, isn’t that funny what they do? You know, they’re outside ringing the bell, and they’ve got that little pot.” Not really making fun of the Salvation Army, but sort of jesting, like kids do.

Well, the bell rang, so we went to religion class. Our religion teacher was Father Hogan. He called on the three of us who had been talking in the hall and asked us to stand up. He said, “You know, I heard you three boys out there talking about the Salvation Army. I wonder, do any of you guys know the motto of the Salvation Army?” 

We each responded, “No, Father.” 

Father Hogan continued, “Well, let me tell you what it is. It’s to love those who aren’t loved by anyone else. The next time you good Catholics are going to make fun of something, remember that.” To this day, that lesson about compassion and sensitivity has stayed with me. Every year at Christmas, when I’m shopping with my wife or daughter and we encounter a Salvation Army volunteer with a red kettle and a ringing bell, I walk over and put money in the pot. I also share with that volunteer what that wonderful priest taught me. 

Father Hogan taught me a second lesson on the importance of being prompt. There are rules — and they are not meant to be bent, twisted, manipulated, or bartered with. The moment I learned this lesson is vivid in my mind. The sports teams at our tiny Catholic school played the biggest schools in the state. I thought I was a big shot athlete. I was the leading scorer in the history of North Dakota High School basketball. I broke the school record in the 440, and was a star on the football team. I thought I was something! Getting a little full of myself, I felt some of the rules didn’t necessarily apply to me.   

Every Monday afternoon by 1 p.m., we had to turn in an eligibility slip to play sports that week. One Monday afternoon, I took my eligibility slip down to the office and laid it on the desk of our principal, Father Hogan. Holding my eligibility slip in one hand, he looked over the top of his horn-rimmed glasses at the clock on the wall. “Dale,” he said, “what time does that clock on my wall say?”  

I had no idea where he was headed, so I said, “One-fifteen.” 

He held my eligibility slip in front of my face and he said, “What time was this due?” 

I said, “One o’clock.” 

“Ah-hah, that’s good you can tell time. And you knew when it was due in my office.” He started ripping my eligibility slip into small pieces, then deposited the pieces in the wastebasket and said, “Now get back up in your classroom and start learning promptness. This slip was due at one o’clock. You’re not going on the road trip this week.” I thought he must be joking. After all, I was the superstar. Well, guess who didn’t go on the road trip?  

Stay tuned for more next month, Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life, with Coach Dale Brown. 

The long relationship between former LSU coach Dale Brown and former Tigers Star Shaquille O’Neal is one of Browns fondest memories as a coach
Dale Brown had a winning season his first year at LSU, and achieved success for the LSU men’s basketball team for the next 25 years

True Leadership Brings People Together 

If there was ever a moment in our history when leadership was needed, it is now. With all the greed, dishonesty, selfishness, evil, and bad things going on in the world, we need good leaders. A common quality of great leaders through the ages has been their mastery at articulating a vision of the future. They see something that is not yet there and can relay the image to others. In any leadership position, the most important aspect of the job is getting everyone to work together. 

However, working together is only a beginning. The world needs leaders who find their strength in faith and character. Exceptional leaders will get their team members to feel they’re an integral part of a common goal. How is this done? This may sound odd, but the underlying theme of teamwork is our ability to convey a renewed sense of optimism. Teamwork doesn’t just happen – it takes a captain to steer it in the right direction. The role of the captain – whether it’s a coach, teacher, father, mother, or whomever – is to give the ship direction, purpose, and ultimately success. 

“The role of most leaders is to get the people to think more of the leader. But the role of the exceptional leader is to get the people to think more of themselves.” — Booker T Washington 

We need to make a difference, but we can do it only through the grace of God. I am convinced that we are capable of solving any problem, whether it’s race, crime, poverty, terrorism, pollution, drugs, or whatever plagues humanity. 

You, with God’s help, are responsible for your future. You’re really free the moment you don’t look outside yourself for someone else to solve your problems. You will know that you’re free when you no longer blame anyone or anything, but realize you control your destiny and are capable of changing the world. People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. We’ve got to decide which group we will be in. 

The most important thing to God is our relationships with one another. He made us in such a way that everybody needs somebody. And God’s idea for success is a community, a group of people who are committed to each other and who strive to follow his will. Humans have not advanced a centimeter in the history of the world if we are still fighting, hating, killing, and cheating. 

The only notable advancement humans have ever made is becoming brothers and sisters who labor toward a common goal. You see, the best potential of “me” is “we.” So the question in our life journey is not whether God can bring peace, love and happiness in the world. 

The question is, can we?

Cover Story, September 2018

Actor T. C. Stallings, Art Imitates Life, Christian Media Gains Momentum

T. C. Stallings played the role of Tony in the blockbuster hit ‘War Room’ in 2015. Did you see the movie that continues to inspires audiences of all ages … and became the #1 Movie in America?
Stallings also starred in ‘A Question of Faith’ in 2017.
Dr. Cameron Lewis is Executive Producer of ‘A Question of Faith.’ “My vision does not stop with oral surgery. God has so much in store for me to serve His people. We are here to help one another. We are called to bless one another as we are being blessed.” More from Cameron in our continued “Christian Media Gains Momentum” in our next edition.
“A Question of Faith” became the #7 movie in 2017 according to the Christian Post.
Kevan Otto, Director of “A Question of Faith,” said that the hit movie “Fireproof” rocked Hollywood in 2008, prompting many production companies to make faith-based films.
Dove Award Winner Amber Nelon Thompson played the starring role of Michelle in ‘A Question of Faith.’ “Playing the role of a singer who’d lost her voice was easy, I’d been through that myself.” More from Amber in our October edition.

Art Imitates Life

Meet T.C. Stallings face-to-face and his unabashed enthusiasm for his faith is infectious. Since his acting debut in the 2008 Kendrick Brother’s film, “Courageous,” Stallings’ larger-than-life screen presence in “War Room” and “A Question of Faith” cemented him as a star in the Christian film genre. 

Christian-life reflected in twenty-first century genre is the Platonic/Aristotelian mimesis, that is, Art Imitates Life. To borrow the 1960s spaghetti western title, audiences of Christian-themed pictures generally — whether they want it or not– get the good, the bad and the ugly. As the leading male in the powerful film on the power-of-prayer, “War Room,” T.C. portrayed Tony as the ambitious, worldly husband opposite Priscilla Shirer as his wife Elizabeth. Christian men can easily see themselves in the part of Tony — driven by the treasures of the world and separated from the notion of storing treasures in heaven. 

There has been an explosion of religious-themed movies since 2006 when “Facing the Giants” inspired Christian audiences. Many mainstream productions tiptoe around the edges of Christianity, careful to avoid offending a viewer. But unapologetic Christian producers have cranked out dozens of films that are less timid in portraying what Christianity is about – a struggle to surrender to Jesus and reject what the “world” expects. Maybe the best thing about this form of entertainment is that there is always a happy ending. 

Stallings was bitten by the acting bug and at the very last minute got the role of T.J. in “Courageous.” After the movie, the bug bite grew into a full-blown desire for a career away from his roots as a football player.

Following his career as a star running back at the University of Louisville and several professional stops, TC was working as a sports commentator and game analyst in his adopted hometown of Louisville. Stallings and his wife Levette prayerfully decided to move their family to southern California.

As a Jesus-follower, Stallings was committed to maintaining an uncompromising commitment to his values and to rejecting any opportunity that did not fit. It proved challenging. Forced into a job as a youth pastor to make ends meet, Stallings’ position lasted just one year. After a year of struggling to find roles, dejected by the job loss, the aspiring actor faced a potential return to Kentucky. But God had another plan. The lead role of Tony in “War Room” was offered the same day as the youth pastorate ended. And, as the old saying goes, the rest is history. 

The genre isn’t always a sophisticated representation because of its “B-movie” budget constraints– woefully low compared to the mega-million-dollar major studio productions. It is not always as commercially successful, partly because of the same financial considerations that limit marketing and promotion, but probably even more so because of the progressive-secular nature of post-modern, mainstream audiences that outright reject a Christian theme as irrelevant to their lives. “War Room” crossed over to a broader audience than most of the genre’s films, which is what people of faith should hope will happen. But, sadly, these movies, which are quite cathartic, go unseen and unsupported even by many Christians. 

Hilton and Rebecca Glass have a film ministry based in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hilton promotes Christian films across the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana. His story probably sums up why many believers are reticent to invest their time to go see movies from the genre. “Rebecca coerced me to drive 60 miles to Mobile to watch a faith-based film, made by a church on a very low budget. My thought was “No! How hokey of a movie can that be?” By the end of “Facing the Giants,” Glass’ perspective changed completely. “At the end the sports announcer exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe what I’ve just seen’ and the hairs stood up on my arms. God was speaking to me. It was crystal clear at that moment that ‘I can’t believe what I’ve just seen’ was not about the movie – it was how God can use movies as an instrument to reach His people,” Glass remembered. 

Despite the challenges, Christian film and television are expanding. Independent producers continue to come out with new products. One such film is “Beautifully Broken” by D-3 Productions in Nashville headed by nationally-known entertainment industry promoter Michelle Duffie. Just released in theaters on August 24th, Beautifully Broken is a story of a refugee’s escape, a prisoner’s promise and a daughter’s painful secret as they converge in a powerful true story of three fathers fighting to save their families. 

Pureflix, an industry-leader, releases three new films this fall. Ashley Kelly from Pureflix is promoting the three releases back-to-back. The first is “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” based on the book by Lauren Hillenbrand that comes to theaters beginning September 14th. It tells the part of the story that the 2014 secular production by Angelina Jolie failed to share. Louis Zamperini was an American Olympian turned World War II airman who survived 47 days on a raft adrift in the Pacific only to be captured and held prisoner in a hellish Japanese camp. That is where Jolie’s “Unbroken” ends. The Pureflix film begins after the war when Zamperini is consumed by hatred and a desire for revenge against his captors. Zamperini accepted Christ at the famous 1949 Billy Graham Los Angeles Crusade. The “path to redemption” is the best part of the story, a man who forgave his captors and launched a 60-plus year career as a Christian evangelist. 

“Little Women” is an update of the classic story by the same name. On the 150th anniversary of the release of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, actress Lea Thompson brings the heroine Marmee to life in a 21st Century setting. Ashley Kelly, director of Pureflix Global Strategic Alliances Marketing, shared that “Pinnacle Peak is releasing the first-ever modern retelling of the beloved classic, LITTLE WOMEN, bringing the same sisters to a new generation to celebrate dreams, family, and unconditional love in theaters on September 28. This movie celebrates the lifelong bonds of family, friendship, and sisterhood!” Pinnacle Peak also created ideas and opportunities for women’s ministries, schools and youth groups tied into the release date. 

Hilton Glass hosts a prescreening of “Indivisible” in Baton Rouge shortly after Labor Day, prior to its national release October 26th. It gives real insight into the impact of war on military families and their marriages. The story is for married couples reminding them of the reality that the most important battle they wage is the fight for their marriage.

These are just four Christian-themed movies, all worthwhile and family friendly, despite some challenging real-life themes. Yet these films are without gratuitous violence, profanity or sexual explicitness or even innuendo. It would bless the producers and actors for the body of Christ to flock to the theaters, and no doubt also bless the believers who see the films.

As one of the industry’s biggest stars, T.C. Stallings’ vision is a Holy Spirit led opportunity to take his celebrity and talent to drive the industry to new heights. There is no doubt that he has the charisma, energy and the character to succeed. T.C. prays daily for God to grow him in His purpose and close the doors that aren’t in line with God’s will. 

“I’m just a guy that watches TV and movies,” he said. “I’m burdened by what I see. Rather than complaining about what’s on TV and what’s in films, I just ask God to give me a platform to be a content creator. I don’t want to be at the mercy of other people to get it done,” Stallings added. But he has put action to the words. “I’ve started Purpose Studios. My company is Team TC Productions. We want to look for those who don’t want to compromise their faith and give them an opportunity. There are other people being told ‘no’ and doors slammed shut.” In the future, he hopes to transition to television. 

Stallings is not alone in the concept of real family-oriented programming, not just on the big screen, but also on the small screen in the living rooms of families around the world. One such company is, the streaming service of Pureflix that offers a variety of programming. Not everything is exclusively Christian. But all films and television programs are family-friendly! It includes a lot of the old standard television series from the 60s and 70s. 

The future looks promising for Christian-cord cutters to find pay-per-view alternatives to Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming providers. There are intriguing opportunities for Christian programming because streaming takes it beyond American households and opens up worldwide access. For the fulfillment of the great commission, Christian television and films represent an amazing, if a little daunting, chance to reach into tens of millions of households. The key then becomes how to get potential viewers to tune in to this type of programming so that they might be impacted by it.

For generations, the American film and television series distributed internationally created a paradigm of American life. Value-based entertainment from Christian-themed organizations might similarly shape the views and touch the hearts of peoples around the world. Streaming means more people may be reached for the Kingdom in a matter of minutes than through years of grinding missionary work. Moreover, it is likely these programs could make the work of missionaries a little easier, possibly softening the non-believer or even the unreached to be more open to Christ in their face-to-face time spent with the people taking the gospel around the world.

Marketing and promotion of movies has become effective and popular in reaching a broader audience.
“Beautifully Broken” was released in August and continues to garner attention.
Michelle S. Duffie, CEO of D3 Entertainment Group has structured marketing strategies generating 1.3 Billion in revenue. Some of the movies promoted include #1 ‘War Room’, ‘I Can Only Imagine’, ‘God’s Not Dead’ and ‘The Shack’ among many others. Her latest, ‘Beautifully Broken’ was released August 24th. More about Michelle in our continuation of ‘Christian Media Gains Momentum” in our next edition.
The movie “Little Women” will be released later this month.
Hilton Glass of Movies Ministries Outreach
Fred Townsend

Fred Townsend is the husband of Beth Townsend, Publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. His 45-year career in marketing is an eclectic collection of work in everything from political campaign consultant to television producer and executive positions at two Fortune 500 Companies. 

August 2018, Cover Story

Cover Story | Zoo Director Phil , Conservation and Christianity

Conservation and Christianity

For Phil Frost, the two go hand in hand

Phil Frost

Baton Rouge Zoo Director Phil Frost knows where a poison dart frog is hiding. He lifts a tiny rock-shaped tent in his office terrarium, and it hops away. “I often find God in small and simple things,” Frost says. The Central and South American frogs – famous for their striking yellow and black coats – are also deadly. “Seeing my frogs reminds me each day to be careful what choices I make and what paths I take.” They are also a reminder to consider the value of each creature. The toxins secreted from the frogs’ skin, once used on the tips of warriors’ arrows, is now the subject of medical research into its use as a muscle relaxant, heart stimulant and anesthetic.
Frost delights in the creatures he oversees. To him, conservation and Christianity go together. “I think that in my interpretation of Genesis and creation, this was made, and we were supposed to take care of it and take care of each other,” he says. “I truly feel that I was called to do what I’m doing.”

After a difficult, devisive debate over the relocation of the zoo, Frost is wholeheartedly stepping into the next phase: renovation of the zoo at its existing location. He expects responses this month to his call for renovation proposals. The BREC Commission voted against the push to move the zoo to a new location at its March 22 meeting following opposition from residents of the area who cite the historical and economic importance of the current location in north Baton Rouge.

“We’ve got a lot of improvements down the road that we’ll be planning, and that’s all starting now, so it’s exciting,” Frost says. “How can we make this the best it can be, sitting right here in Greenwood Park in north Baton Rouge? That’s our charge.” That process will include efforts to restore accreditation by the prestigious American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, lost this spring due to the aging infrastructure at the 48-year-old zoo.

“To me it’s more than just about a zoo. It’s about people, it’s about education, it’s about teaching people the importance of saving wildlife and wild places,” Frost says. “We wish every kid could go to Africa. We wish every kid could go to South America and see those frogs in the wild. But we know that’s not going to happen.” Seeing animals like the Golden Lion Tamarins – some of the rarest monkeys in the world – helps people realize that animals have problems that humans can help solve.

“All of a sudden, zoos have been able to get involved in conservation efforts around the world. We’re involved in programs that deal with frogs in Panama, elephants in Kenya and tigers in Malaysia and Sumatra,” Frost said. He now serves as chair of Species360, a software company that connects more than 1,100 zoos in 90 different countries to collect and share animal records and genealogy. That allows zoos to look at bloodlines and bring potential mates together to conserve struggling species. “If it had not been for the captive breeding at the New York Bronx Zoo, we would not have bison today, because they had been brought down to such a low number,” Frost says.
The big challenge today is adapting to new knowledge about animal habitats and educating the public about realistic methods of conserving endangered species. Zoos around the world – including the Baton Rouge Zoo – are choosing to house a smaller variety of animals in favor of preserving sparse species. For example, eight different cat species were previously housed at the local zoo in what is now the Realm of the Tiger.
For the same reasons, zoo officials are considering whether to replace the 46-year-old elephant, Judy, who died in 2013, and her companion, Bozie, who was transferred to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Recent studies revealed that elephants are social animals and need to belong to a herd, preferably in the wild where they reproduce best. For rescued elephants, the cost is enormous. While Buckskin Bill raised $6,000 for an elephant exhibit, that amount would not even cover food for a year at today’s costs, and it would take $10-15 million dollars for the exhibit and animals, Frost says. A bird building, at a quarter of the cost, attracts visitors for 25-30 minutes versus a typical five second viewing at an elephant exhibit. “I think that’s what this master planning process is about, bringing the community together and saying what’s really important to them,” Frost says.

Frost sees a zoo as unique gathering place for the community because it appeals to all generations. He wants every child to experience the animals and develop a sense of concern for them, just as he did. His father, a Free Methodist minister, made a point of stopping at the Evansville, Indiana zoo each time they traveled from their home in Illinois to visit grandparents in Kentucky. Frost became fascinated with the tiny prairie dogs but also acquired lessons in responsibility from the time with animals. Missionaries also visited their home and brought information and toy replicas of exotic animals from places like Africa and China. He learned that the best way to solve problems is by equipping the people who live among them.
“And so, in many cases, the conservation programs we’re involved in help fund projects that are already on the ground by the people who live there, who know the culture, who are very well established,” Frost says. “We’re supporting those programs with dollars that people donate to us through our Friends of the Zoo.”
That sense of responsibility also finds its roots in the beliefs of the Free Methodist church, a denomination that split from mainstream Methodists in the mid-1800s over issues including slavery and free seating at church during a time when wealthy families paid for pews near the front of the sanctuary. “All my life I’ve been raised in a family that truly saw the value in all people,” Frost says. The Frosts are now members of First United Methodist Church in downtown Baton Rouge.
His upbringing also informs his understanding of creation and the natural world. “I am a biologist, I am a scientist, but I’m also a Christian. And sometimes those don’t go together,” he says, in reference to the debate over the origin of the universe. “God created it,” he says. “I just believe it, and that’s the way it is. And I’m comfortable with that.” He points to an experience with a minister friend in Tennessee during a tour of the “Rise of Life” exhibit at Grassmere Wildlife Park that Frost helped develop in Nashville.
“The fact that there were Smilodon, or Saber-tooth cats, there 2,000 years ago, the fact that it was under water several million years ago because you can find Mosasaurus skeletons which is a fish, big whale-like fish in all the sand – it was obvious that a lot of things had changed in the last many, many years.” The exhibit referred to the [Big] Bang. “It’s not a fact; it’s a theory,” Frost said. His minister friend remarked, “Yeah, my God could have done it that way.”
“And I thought, we don’t have to sit here and argue that’s not how it is. My God did it. And that’s kind of the simplicity that I’ve had,” Frost said. “The science mentality is we’ve got to prove it. I think that’s where faith comes in. You just can’t prove faith.” One of his favorite scripture verses is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

“We can make a difference in the world. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I think that’s the beauty of what zoos do today,” Frost said. “One of the challenges that zoos have is just being a megaphone, if you will, to people about things that we can do.

Cover Story, July 2018

Cover Story, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, Faith and Family First

Faith and family first

Chief murphy paul calls the community to action

Armed with 27 years of law enforcement experience and standing on a foundation of faith, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul exudes confidence in efforts to stem the rising tide of violence among American youth.

“If we’re going to change the hearts and souls of young men, then I think it’s going to start with our faith-based community,” he said. “Less than 7% of individuals are responsible for a majority of the violent crime. They’re not in their congregations on Sundays – they’re not. So, if we’re going to evangelize to the lost, you have to get from behind the pulpit. We have to hit the streets.”

That means intentionally stepping into troubled areas, building bridges of trust and opening avenues of communication. But they want to do it wisely. This summer, the U.S. Department of Justice is holding sessions in Baton Rouge with faith-based leaders and other community partners on safely engaging the community at the street level.

“We’re going to ask our pastors to try to reach the hearts of these young men, and we’re going to have mentors out there,” Paul said. “We’re going to do everything we can to have a positive impact on this culture of violence.”

“One of the things we recognize is that there are barriers in community-police relations. So, what we’re telling the community is – if you’re scared to come forward to law enforcement, if you don’t want to come forward, then go to your pastor, your faith-based leader and talk to him or her,” Paul said. Faith-based leaders can then present appropriate information to law enforcement.

While current statistics indicate an increase in the homicide rate, Chief Paul expects the number of violent deaths to decrease as their efforts take hold. “We’re below the national average when it comes to solving these homicides and that’s due, in part, because the community is not coming forward and working with us to provide information to put these bad guys in jail,” he said. “Every violent crime that we see right now – there’s a gun involved. And we’re starting to see that some of the criminals are getting younger and younger.”

It’s important to get to know people, then look for crisis signs. “A change in behavior is a big indicator,” Paul said. “So, I think it’s important in this day and age that when we see something, we say something.”

Chief Paul favors the idea of police officers in schools to serve as resource personnel. However, there is currently too little funding and too few officers. Consistent, on-site police officers would develop relationships with students that can break down barriers, flag problems and help kids view police officers in a different light.

“We’re starting to see some progress. The community is saying we’re sick and tired of the violent crime that’s going on in our community, and they’re talking,” he said. Crime Stoppers, the anonymous tip line, is receiving as many as 400 calls per month at 344-STOP.

But the core of the issue is a need for changed hearts, Paul believes. “We are dealing with a culture of violence in the city of Baton Rouge where we have young men who don’t care if they live another day. They don’t care about the consequences,” he said. “Their hearts are not in the right place. With all our work and efforts as police officers, we’re not in the heart business.”

That’s where the faith-based community can work best – by transforming lives, Paul said. He traces his own success to adults who cultivated his faith and understanding of right and wrong.

Growing up in New Orleans, Paul confronted a spectrum of tough choices. “I look at the young men that I grew up with – some are in jail, some have lost their lives, some may not be doing as well. And I look at all the successful [ones].” Education and positive role models are key, he said. “You need mentors; you need people to look up to, people to help lead you in that direction.” Paul said some people who run into trouble with the law were never taught to do the right thing.

“It’s unfortunate that we do have a generation that are lost, but we can’t give up on them. It’s not the Christian thing to do,” he said. “We have to keep trying.” To youth in the community – and his own four sons – Paul preaches the three C’s: control, choices and consequences.

“You have control over everything you do. How you respond to a situation is more important than the hardship itself. That’s why you have to be wise when you make choices because they have consequences,” he said.

“So, I tell kids: Don’t buy into this victim mentality. We make mistakes. Learn from them,” he said. “The way you do that is understanding the 3 F’s: faith and family first. They are the only institutions that don’t judge you and give you second chances.”

Paul said many people invested in his life and led by example. “My mom [Patricia Price Paul] always preached the importance of putting God first,” he said. His parents divorced when he was very young, leaving her to raise Paul and his two sisters.

“She just showered us with so much love. My sisters – we have a great relationship. I can’t ever think of a phone call or a conversation where we didn’t say “I love you” and “I love you, too,” even after an argument. He credits his mother for her awareness of their friends and activities – and for being quick to intervene when something didn’t seem right.

“My mom could come in my room any time and just search the room. I can remember one time she searched the car – she didn’t like the company I was with that time,” he said. “Kids out there don’t always make the best decisions.” He advises parents to take charge by searching their kids’ backpacks and bedrooms. “We need to look under the mattress, we need to pull out the drawers, we need to go to the car, get the keys, search in the glove compartment, the trunk and everything. Be involved.”

“I’m in a great place right now, spiritually,” Paul said. To start the day with a positive attitude, he turns to gospel music. At 6:00 every morning, a cashier at the State Police cafeteria sends a verse of scripture. “Today’s scripture is ‘Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity,’ [Colossians 4:5, 6 NLT]” he said. He reads the daily scripture on the Bible App. He is refreshed and encouraged at Healing Place Church. “Every Sunday, you get an opportunity to empty that stress cup,” he said. “It puts things in the right perspective.”

That perspective is at the heart of his appeal to the faith-based community, in the belief that a mindset of awareness and mentoring can make a difference. Chief Paul is so committed to the concept of community involvement that – when he decided to retire from State Police – he intended to spend the rest of his life connecting capable volunteers with their areas of passion through his new nonprofit, Work to Give. He prepared to become a certified mentor trainer through the John Maxwell program, Then, he experienced a life change.

“If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans,” Paul said. “God began to bless me and open up doors and opportunities that I could never imagine.” Fellow mentors in the Maxwell program saw his sense of hope, his enthusiasm and his experience as qualifications for a future police chief – something he had not considered. On their advice, he turned in his application for Baton Rouge chief of police just before the deadline.

I’m excited about the future of the police department here. We have great men and women who work here,” he said. “I think God put me here for a reason.”

“It’s a difficult time. I do believe that. And that’s why I think prayer is so important,” he said. “God has a way of calming us in difficult times…I pray and ask God for wisdom, for guidance on decisions.”

“But I think the true change in the crime issues here is not going to come from me,” Paul said. “I think it’s going to come from the community – and it’s going to come from the faith-based community. They’re in the business of changing hearts.”

The Baton Rouge Police Department is seeing success through connections with community leaders including faith-based partnerships.

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. She was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds a master’s degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

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Cover Story, June 2018

Cover Story, Dr. Jim Parker on the Excavation of Ancient Israel

Dr. Jim Parker on Excavation in Ancient Israel

Group picture from last years team
Last years team at the tunnel where the dig was taking place
New Orleans baptist theological seminary professor Jim Parker (left) and chief archeologist for the Israel Parks and Nature Authority Tsvika Tusk (right) analyze plans and findings at Tel Gezer, a city given to King Soloman as a wedding gift.

Digging for buried treasure 150 feet below the surface of modern-day Israel, a team of archaeological experts works to enhance our understanding of Biblical culture – in the artifacts of the western lower Galilee, in a city fortified by King Solomon and the site of a water system dating back to the time of Abraham. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor Dr. Jim Parker’s background in mining and Biblical interpretation has earned him a seat at the table with some of Israel’s foremost archaeologists, and an opportunity to cast Biblical light on an area dominated for decades by secular researchers.

Earlier in his career as an engineer, Parker explored sites along the Mediterranean Sea for granite and marble to use in the high-rise buildings he constructed, including the Galleria in New Orleans and structures that dot the skyline of Houston. His travels took him to Greece, Italy, Spain and Egypt, where he developed an interest in the history and culture of ancient civilizations. Back home in Kenner, he and his wife, Donna, were active in First Baptist Church, where he taught a Sunday School class. Then, he had a life-changing encounter.

“One morning, about 4:00 – literally to me – someone had come into our bedroom, and I heard someone speak to me,” Parker recalled. “I knew someone was there because I’d heard them speak – a man’s voice – and I jumped up and turned the light on and no one was there.” He thought he was dreaming, so he went back to bed. “I heard the voice again speak to me very clearly, ‘I want you to go to school.’ And that was it.”

For a week, he prayed and thought about the incident. At church the next Sunday, the chairman of the deacons called out to him, “Have you ever thought about going to seminary?” And he said, “No.” But within a week he enrolled in seminary, earning Masters’ degrees in Biblical languages and Biblical Archaeology, and a PhD from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He now serves as Executive Director of the Michael and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology at NOBTS, with co-directors Dr. Dennis Cole and Dr. Daniel Warner, all of whom are working alongside other institutions on the ten-year-old excavation of Tel Gezer in central Israel.

This summer, they expect to wrap up work at Tel Gezer, a site given to King Solomon as a wedding gift when he married an Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter. Sifting through tons of earth dating back to the Middle Bronze 2A period, Parker devised a hoist system to more efficiently remove sediment from the mouth of the Canaanite water tunnel. “Even now, we’re not quite sure why there’s nothing in the ancient world like it. It’s so large. It’s 12 feet wide, 24 feet tall, and a perfect arch, then it goes down at a 40-degree angle through solid rock to the water table, we think,” Parker said. “Along the walls, we have niches that we believe have religious inscriptions.”

This year, Parker negotiated an agreement with Tel Aviv University to work at Tel Hadid in the historically rich Aijalon Valley, near the site where the moon and sun stood still as Joshua pursued his enemies (Joshua 10:12), and where Saul and Jonathan battled the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:31). Sitting on a mound halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the site served as an entry point for ancient travelers on the way to Jerusalem. “We’ll be digging at three places at one time this summer – very unusual for us: Sepphoris, Tel Gezer and Tel Hadid, a site five or six miles from Gezer that’s never been dug,” Parker said.

The newest site, Tel Hadid, is regarded as so historically important that the government constructed a tunnel for a major highway underneath the site to avoid disturbing any artifacts. The partnership with Tel Aviv University promises to provide 25-30 years of work for archaeologists and Biblical scholars.

As the premier school of archaeology in Israel, Tel Aviv University has produced many liberal, or minimalist, scholars who are not sure of the authenticity of the Biblical narrative. They are not alone in their skepticism. Work by archaeologists such as Kathleen Kenyon, in the 1950s, cast doubt on the account of Joshua and Jericho, for example, prompting many to dismiss the idea of a real Exodus due to the lack of archaeological evidence.

However, excavation ten feet further down uncovered a vast Semitic city and an extensive civilization of Semitic people who lived in Egypt around the time of the Exodus, 1500-1450 BC. “She was absolutely wrong. She was looking at the wrong time period and made assumptions on and about the Bible that were incorrect,” Parker said. But at the time, there were no evangelical archaeologists working in that period, and faulty conclusions controlled the narrative for decades. “I think it’s essentially important that we have a voice in this arena because it sets the narrative for archaeology and Israel and the Middle East,” Parker said.

“We bring Carbon 14 dating and everything that we can possibly do to understand,” Parker said. “But the more of this kind of work that’s done, the clearer and clearer it becomes that the scripture was exactly as it is written. It’s almost over the top describing what this last decade has been like.”

Research at Gezer paints a picture of the culture Abraham encountered when he followed God’s direction to relocate to nearby Hebron. Among the pottery and stones, the team discovered a jar of jewelry hidden in the walls of the city. The cache includes a disk with an eight-pointed star and horns representing the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. They also found standing stones, the high places used in the worship of Ba’al, the storm god. And that’s not all. “When we opened the gate up to bedrock and created a section in the gate, we found four jar burials of infants that were buried in the gate,” Parker said. “We’re now processing, trying to understand whether those were sacrificial in nature or if the children were buried there after their death.”

Parker said their task is not to prove that the Bible is true – that comes by faith. Rather, they are trying to bring understanding to scripture through archaeology. For example, archaeologists can uncover and study historical cities such as Capernaum. “On the theological side, can we prove that Jesus healed a leper there in Capernaum? That’s not something we’re able to discover,” Parker said.

“We might go down to Bethabarra where Jesus was baptized, and probably where Naaman the leper came, and we find 40 graves of people who were lepers there. You can see the leprosy in their bones,” Parker said. “That helps boost the story; it helps us understand both Old and New Testament stories.”

“The early church did a great, great service to us by locating many of the sites and making it easy to go and see, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Inside that one church, you have Calvary, the place of the crucifixion, and just a few yards away you have the tomb. But the actual stone of the tomb of the first century is still intact inside the Aedicule,” Parker said. “Is it where Jesus rose from the dead? We have to take that by faith – that he did.”

Archaeology is one of the great opportunities for someone who feels a call to the Middle East. “There’s going to be 100 years of work in the wake of ISIS and what’s gone on in Syria with all the destruction there,” Parker said. “UNESCO World Heritage Organization has put out a call for people trained in archaeology.”

“We’ve never had a better opportunity to enter into the Muslim world. This is an area we really need to see grow,” Parker said. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offers several related fields of study including a Master of Arts specializing in Biblical Archaeology.

The Museum of the Bible and Archaeology at NOBTS is open to the public. It features pottery from the time before Abraham to the Babylonian captivity, examples of papyrus and cuneiform writing, an Esther scroll and facsimiles of the oldest, most complete Greek Bible, Codex Sinaiticus, as well as the Gutenberg Bible.

For more information, For more photos, visit our website at 

A man digs as the team searches for artifacts

Dr. Jim Parker brought his experience in mining and engineering to the excavation sites, constructing a hoist system to remove debris from the site of an ancient Canaanite water system. 

There are many amazing artifacts on display at The Museum of the Bible and Archaeology located on the campus in New Orleans.
Dr. Parker and his wife Donna at Bethabara on the Jordan River (the water in the background). This is where it is traditionally held that John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
Various pictures of the digs and team from last year

Israeli authorities were initially reluctant to allow New Orleans Baptist Theologoical Seminary team to use a crane near the Gezer water tunnel. Jim Parker’s expertise and detailed plans were influential in gaining approval for the project. 

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. She was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds masters degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminar, and served as Chaplain at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
April 2018, Cover Story, Feature Story

Purpose in the Pain, Troy and Tracy Duhon Step Out in Faith for World Impact


Troy and Tracy Duhon step out in
faith for world impact.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Troy and Tracy Duhon
God’s Not Dead 3 opened nationwide March 30. Photo to the right shows Tracy and Abigail Duhon playing with kids in a village in Gambia, the location of an orphanage constructed by Giving Hope.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - Gambia Orphanage

“Be careful what you pray for – God might send a Cajun car dealer,” laughs Troy Duhon. He shakes his head as he recounts the way God is using a rebellious pastor’s son to spread the gospel through the burgeoning Christian movie business, build orphanages around the world, and address human trafficking, hunger and prison re-entry from his base in New Orleans.

As executive producer of the “God’s Not Dead” series, Duhon works to equip Christians – especially young adults – to address conflicting ideas during the volatile high school and college years. The latest film, “God’s Not Dead 3,” is scheduled for release by Pure Flix this Easter season.

Duhon was sitting on a movie set in Los Angeles when he was struck by the idea. “We have a daughter (Abigail) who’s an aspiring actress, so she auditioned for a film and got the role. Because she’s a minor, parents have to go,” he said. Then, he received a phone call from a friend, Dr. Rice Broocks, author of the book, God’s Not Dead.

“He’s telling me that 65% of faith-based kids will walk away from Christianity because they can’t defend the gospel. And I’m like – that’s crazy,” he said. “All of a sudden I got hit by the Holy Spirit and I’m like, really, God, me do a movie? I’ve never done a movie in my life.”

Duhon approached David A.R. White, co-founder and managing partner of Pure Flix. “He looks at me and says, “Are you for real?” And 31 days later we signed the contract. Now, up to 40 million people have seen the film.”

The Duhons are part of a movement to take the Christian film industry to a new level. “When you do a film called “God’s Not Dead” there’s a very small market of people that are going to go to it. You’re entertaining Christians,” he said. “But when you take a story like “Hacksaw Ridge” (directed by Mel Gibson), you’re able to tell someone a story without preaching.” “Hacksaw Ridge” depicts the faith struggle of WWII medic Desmond T. Doss.

“We’re creating a new model to evangelize,” Duhon said. That includes the idea of producing horror films – popular among Millennials – with a faith resolution. “You can give them a finish that says there’s a Creator, and his name is God. I don’t care what devil you served, God will redeem you and forgive you,” Duhon said. They are also working to provide the story of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and stories of people who have faced hard circumstances because of their faith.

Duhon said personal tragedy often pulls someone away from faith: the loss of someone close, a broken heart, a profound disappointment. For others, it is a creeping realization that Christianity prompts questions – and they don’t have answers.

But with a faith animated by their own search for struggles, the Duhon family was uniquely equipped to embrace these issues head-on. Their own painful reality – similar to the tragedy experienced by the professor in “God’s Not Dead” – brought a stronger faith and deeper commitment to serve. But it was an agonizing process that Troy and Tracy share to encourage faith through crisis.

After giving birth to two healthy children, Joshua and Abigail, Tracy looked forward to a third baby in 2004. But she was told that the baby would not even survive her pregnancy. In faith, the Duhon family and members of their church prayed through scripture and trusted God for a miracle. But Baby Jonathan died on the day he was born. Tracy and Troy were devastated.

“You could have taken anything in this world from me – anything but my children,” Tracy said. She felt that God had let her down. “We did not receive our miracle the way that we believed.” But Tracy said God was working out a different plan – one that took shape with wave after wave of trauma.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded four of the car dealerships in their New Orleans-based business. Some 1,200 cars were under water. Troy set up a relief center for the community in his Honda store. Soon, they were servicing 1,200 cars per day. “What was incredible wasn’t the number of cars, it was the joy of watching our employees give back,” Troy explained. “And from that moment on, I made a decision that it was never going to be about how many cars I sold, it was going to be about how many people that I could bless.”

Then, tragedy struck again. In May 2006, their son, Joseph, was born and lived only seven hours. “Losing one child was pain enough, and then it happened a second time. Truly you’re going to doubt your faith,” Troy said. Depression set in, along with self-doubt: was there something in his past that caused present pain?

“It was way too much for a mama to walk through. I was totally broken,” Tracy said. “And one day in the shower I cried out to the Lord, screamed, yelled at him, ‘Why don’t you just take away this pain?’” Then, she sensed God’s direction; as she emotionally released her baby boys to him, she began to move forward. “I chose to obey one day at a time. He asked me to be faithful with what is in my hand, and at the time it was Joshua, six years old, and Abigail, three years old, looking up at me. Joshua said, ‘I’m going to keep kissing you ‘til you stop crying, Mama.’”

“You begin to try to justify or rationalize without knowing that God truly has a plan and a purpose,” Troy said. “Because if those events hadn’t happened, I don’t see myself here today adopting, building orphanages and doing the things I’m doing.”

“My pain became my purpose,” he said. “I told Tracy, ‘Baby, you’re going to be the mother of many before we go to heaven. I will build 20 orphanages – that’s my goal.’” In the meantime, Tracy gave birth to another daughter, Avah, now age 6, and they gained a daughter through adoption. Anna, now age five, was brought home from China in 2012.

“The extravagant love of God loved me back to life – gave me a passion,” Tracy said. There are three lessons she passes along to others. First, there is purpose in your pain and you must choose to let it go. Then, you must tell yourself and others that God has not failed you. Finally, you must recognize that there is hope, and while you’re waiting on your miracle, become a miracle for someone else. “God gave me the word Hope, and he told me never to let go of it. And H.O.P.E. became Helping Other People Every day.”

Gradually, God began to reveal their purpose: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25: 35, 36). The Giving Hope Foundation began to take shape. They commit a small portion of each vehicle sale to the foundation’s work.

Through their non-profit, the Duhons established Hope for a Home to help families with international adoptions. They built orphanages in Honduras, India and Africa, and plan a ribbon cutting for the orphanage in Moscow, Russia in July. Through a partnership with the New Orleans Mission, they have built the Giving Hope Retreat Center to serve men and women who face the challenges of addiction, mental illness and physical or sexual abuse. A Women’s Pavilion provides 100 rooms to battered women, victims of human trafficking and formerly homeless women. Giving Hope also works with inmates released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola through the New Orleans Mission.

Another branch of Giving Hope – H.A.T.E., Hope Against Trafficking Everywhere – educates and provides rescue and recovery for victims of human trafficking, the fastest growing crime in the world, with an average age of 11 to 14-year-old girls and boys.

Giving Hope operates a full-staff kitchen that cooks 1,000 hot meals every day in one of their car dealerships. Their food pantry partners with Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Second Harvesters to provide some 2.5 million pounds of food a year.

“So, I’m here to tell you today: God did not fail me, he has not failed you,” Tracy said. “His word came to pass in our life. But it came to pass much greater and much different than I had imagined.”

Their pastor told them, “The miracle of your sons living would have been incredible, but the miracle is that you and Troy are holding hands, walking back in church, moving forward, trusting God, because people can relate to your pain. They need to see someone who dared to believe and move forward and trust God again – that he can take it and turn it around.” 

For more information:

Abigail, Tracy, Josh, Troy, Annahstasia and Avah
Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Left; Tracy with a native at Hope House in India. Right, Troy and Josh with dedication plaque for Honduras Hope House.

Susan Brown began her career in radio news. she was news director for WJBO/WFMF radio and a journalism instructor at LSU. She holds Master’s Degrees from LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary, and served as a chaplain at Louisiana Correctional institute for Women.

BRCL Kirk Cameron
Cover Story, March 2018

Life in the Living Room

Life in the

Living Room

by Sharon Holeman

photos by Taylor Frey

BRCLM Image Kirk Cameron

Cushioned armchairs, bookcases filled with memories, and a coffee table you can put your feet on. The living room is the heart of the home. It is where families do puzzles, watch movies, laugh, and share stories. It is the place friends gather to pray. Or cry. It is an area created specifically for family. These are some of the reasons Kirk Cameron named his latest marriage and parenting event Living Room Reset.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine was privileged to sit down in January with Cameron prior to his first stop on the event tour, which was held at the Church International on Quail Drive.

What was it like talking to the actor best known for his role on the television sitcom Growing Pains? It was like chatting with a lifelong friend even though you’ve just met. Familiar and engaging, personable and well-spoken, Cameron joked with us, yet spoke with a purposed passion regarding his great love for God and family.

Cameron’s event takes place on a set designed to resemble a living room, the heart of the home.

It might surprise you to learn this outspoken man of faith did not grow up in a Christian home. In fact, he was an atheist who didn’t intend to be on television. Reflecting on his life, Cameron recalls wanting to become a surgeon, but at the age of nine he was given an opportunity to act. His life changed.  “Growing Pains was really an interruption to the plans that I had made for myself,” he said.  Familiar dimples framed his smile as he began to explain his salvation story.

“I love this acronym for the Bible – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” –Kirk Cameron

While working on the set of the popular show that made him a household name, he met a girl who invited him to church. He was intrigued by the pastor’s message, but had questions. The girl’s father answered some of them, but challenged Cameron to go to God with the right attitude for answers. He did. He also continued to go to church. Now 17, he spoke to God one day while sitting in his car. “I asked God to reveal Himself to me and to forgive me for the wrong choices I had made and show me the way.” Cameron’s life changed again.

Looking back, he can see how the Lord was working in his life. Today he simply uses the platform he has been given through his work in television, film, and live entertainment to share the gospel. His love for the Word of God guides his life, including his belief in the sanctity of marriage. It is this view, Cameron stated, that determines how he lives in his family. It undoubtedly also shapes the choices he makes. The film Fireproof, about a man attempting to save his failing marriage, is an example.

“Making a movie like Fireproof was not only a way for me to express my view of the sacredness of marriage, but it also challenges and inspires me when I play roles like that, to be the kind of husband God wants me to be.”

The major stumbling block married people face today is what Cameron call the “me monster” couples who are filled with pride and selfishness. He offers the solution by illustration of the cross, as Jesus did not come to serve but to be served. Christ sacrificed his life for his bride and we are instructed to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That’s a tall order. “Jesus has helped me become more fit for the Kingdom,” he said, his green eyes twinkling. It is that passion for God and family that seems to motivate him. It’s what has driven him to spend the last eight years traveling around the country teaching conferences on marriage.

Cameron said he doesn’t worry if he is fulfilling the will of God for his life. He knows what it is, and it is the same for him as it is for each of us. We find it in the New Testament, where we see Paul writing in one of his letters. “He says that God’s will for us is that we will be saved, that we would be Spirit-filled, that we would be saying thanks for all things, and making music and melody in our hearts. That’s God’s will for our life,” Cameron said.

He added that choices like jobs, schools, or marriage partners are opportunities for God to direct us individually. Cameron likes to pray for God to open doors He wants opened, and to close doors that He wants closed. It is choices like these where he trusts in the leading of the Father, knowing that God sees his desire to honor Christ, bless his family, and work together with the church to bring Heaven to earth. In the end, Cameron says, “All of history is His Story, including our little chapter in it.”

Laughter breaks out when Cameron is asked about his favorite Scripture and he recalls a funny story told by Christian comedian Tim Hawkins — a lighthearted joke followed by a sincere expression of love. “I would like to say that the Word of God is the most precious and important book on the planet. There is no better gift that God has given to the world other than the presence of Christ and the form of His Spirit, than His Word because it frames all of life. I love the acronym that someone came up with for the Bible – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. And it’s true.”

It seems abundantly apparent that Cameron uses The Word as his guidebook – for life, for his career, for his marriage, and for parenting. It is what he is passionate about sharing. It is the same for many of us too, but sometimes we need a reset. We need to sit down in the living room with a friend and talk about the goodness of the Lord. Read Scriptures for guidance. Pray for wisdom. Cry. Laugh. Put our feet on the coffee table, get comfortable, and do life together.

For more information on Cameron’s Living Room Reset tour, visit Additionally, an exclusive showing of Kirk Cameron Connect: Real Help for Parenting in a Social Media World is scheduled to play in select theaters nationwide on March 1. Tickets are available at Cinemark Perkins Rowe or Movie Tavern.


Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles – 12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana , she is now penning her first screenplay. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.

Church Finds Creative Ways to Reach Out

Pastor Mark Stermer with guest speaker Kirk Cameron.

For Sr. Pastor Mark Stermer, actor Kirk Cameron’s visit to The Church in Baton Rouge was just another creative way to impact our city while bringing together people from all walks of life on a Friday night.

Innovative events are just part of the culture of this multi-campus church. It’s an intentional way to add value to what is already there. “When you carve out time for God, people’s lives are touched,” Stermer said. Special events and retreats can be like reset buttons, unique opportunities to have a complete experience with God.

That is also the goal each Sunday morning — to expose the congregation to various forms of worship. Communion, fellowship, prayer, music, and the sacrifice of giving are part of the weekly effort to make Jesus famous.

Overseeing several churches on a daily basis requires intentional leadership, but Stermer has a vision for our city to come together outside of the walls of our church buildings. He believes now is a good season to step outside of denominational walls by loving one another.

“It’s good that we are all different!” he said. “My wife and I are different … that’s a good thing! We are all the children of God, Christians. Unity starts with understanding that we are not enemies. Anyone who loves Jesus and tries to follow him in their life, that is my brother and sister. This is not a competition — this is a family.”

Stermer hopes not just for unity, but for the salvation of many. “Our hope is that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We are called to go, not just stay in our four walls. We are called to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe God’s teachings … that we would be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ — His mind, life, mission, and yes, even his promises.”

He says there is much work to get done in reaching the lost for Jesus. But by being inclusive and working together, he sees great things ahead for our city. For more information about The Church International, several upcoming events, log onto Information about The Church Academy can be found at

His Conversion was a Different Kind of ‘Growing Pain’

Night and day. That’s how Kirk Cameron’s childhood compares to his life today.

Those who watch his Christian-themed films or attend his evangelical seminars are sometimes surprised to learn that in the 1980s and 1990s, Cameron was a teen heartthrob starring in one of ABC’s highest rated sitcoms, Growing Pains.

Anchored by actors Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns as his parents, the show was an entertaining sitcom with a catchy theme song (As Long as We’ve Got Each Other) and an upbeat family who always solved their problems by the end of each episode. With his good lucks and bright smile, Cameron was perfectly cast as girl-crazy Mike Seaver. In fact, the role earned him two Golden Globe nominations.

Kirk Cameron launched his career as a child actor on the show ‘Growing Pains.’

Cameron’s real life younger sister is Candace Cameron, who starred as D.J. Tanner in ‘Full House’ from 1987 to 1995.
Kirk Cameron (back row, right) starred as Mike seaver in the TV sitcom ‘Growing Pains’ from 1985 to 1992. He’s pictured here with his TV family, led by actors Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke.
Cameron and wife, Chelsea, on ‘The Heart of Family’ series.

A child actor who had been in the entertainment business since age nine, Cameron’s family wasn’t spiritual. But at age 17, during the height of his career, he became a Christian. Newly committed to Christ, Cameron voiced his objections to storylines that he felt were inappropriate or unwholesome, and admittedly shifted his focus from the show to his spiritual life. When he got married at age 21, just months before the show ended, he did not invite his TV family to the wedding. His new faith caused a rift between him and his castmates that continued for years.

The cast did reunite, however, for The Growing Pains Movie in 2000. At the time, Cameron said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he was very young at the time of his conversion and would handle things differently (now) to avoid being hurtful toward his TV family.

Today, Cameron is married to Chelsea Noble, a fellow star on Growing Pains, and they are the parents of six children.

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